Worm Casting?

Asked February 11, 2020, 11:25 AM EST

Hello, Reading Lots of information about how good worm casing is good, I wanted to make one for my backyard vegetable garden. Looking deeper I found an article saying worm casting is not better than regular composing, it can be harmful in some cases. I already have two composting bean that I got for free from Montgomery county. This are just a sheet of perforated plastic that make a round container without bottom. I add all my yard waste -branches, leaf, vegetable plants, fruit leftover, . . . No meat or diary- into them. I do not watch the ratio of "brown to Green" and do not check the temperature, they are just there and I take the lower part and use in vegetable garden from time to time. I do not use any chemical fertilizers in my garden. Here is the link: https://www.gardenmyths.com/vermicompost-is-it-great/ Basically I am wondering if making a worm bean (my plan is to make 1 X 3 X 8 feet) produce a better fertilizer for vegetables? Please advise.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Worm composting (vermicomposting) can be a great way to recycle vegetable kitchen scraps, but as you mention, it may not be any more effective as a soil amendment than "regular" compost. One main advantage is that if your outdoor compost pile has nuisance animal problems, vermicomposting indoors will still let you recycle those nutrients for compost where the animals can't reach it. Another difference may be the speed at which each process produces finished compost, and this will depend on factors such as temperature, moisture, C/N ratio, and aeration.

This is a publication on worm composting if you want more information on how to get started: https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/Soil_Amendments_Compost/HG%2040%20Indoor%20Redworm%20Composting_2018.pdf.

Soil amendments such as compost are mostly used for their positive impact on soil tilth (the physical condition, like texture) and microbe health; nutrient availability is more of an added benefit. Therefore, if the composted yard waste is sufficient for your uses and not a nuisance to produce, then this is probably sufficient for you. Otherwise, there isn't a major detriment to trying vermicomposting as well.

The main detriment to worm breakdown of organic matter that we have encountered is in a different scenario: non-native worms in the soils of New England that are breaking-down the natural layers of woodland leaf litter much faster than the native soil organisms would, which is contributing to erosion and degradation of habitat for wildflowers.